Elk Island National Park

After our stop in Calgary for doughnuts we headed towards Edmonton and Elk Island National park. We arrived in the park around 2pm which is not the best time to be walking around looking for wildlife since they are smarter than I am and hide out in the shade. We went to the parks office and bought our pass for about $13. The gentleman at the office was very helpful and gave us maps and a few clues as to where to look. He also suggested we stay as long as possible since later there would be more wildlife out and about. We started off by driving the bison loop to find no bison. We then headed to a trail that promised views of nearly everything but the heat won again. We did see lots of scat and you could tell something had walked thru the area. We even detected the unmistakable smell of cow which we figured must mean bison but they had moved on. So we decided to drive further into the park and low and behold, bison.

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They were grazing on the side of the road. Most were females and their older calves. I kind of expected them to be larger. The males we had seen along the highway seemed quite huge.

There was one young calf that was quite hot and panty. He laid in the grass most of the time, poor little fellow.

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We then headed up another road and found some odd birds along the side of the road. Chris was driving and as we came around the corner they just stood there. I was looking out the window and the one was like 6” from the car as we went past. He was giving me big puss-n-boots eyes like please don’t hit me Mr.Car. We stopped and I took a picture of the one we didn’t almost hit. Chris backed the car up slowly so I could get a picture of the puss-n-boots one, well that slow careful movement is what they needed to fly off into the bushes.

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Once we finished on the side road we came back and saw the now larger herd of bison. Ken was texting us wondering if we got lost so we decided to call it and head “home”. On the way out we checked out the holding areas but didn’t see anything.

We did some research on the park before we went and Chris and I feel it’s a glorified game farm. The wild animals are not wild really. They are fenced in, rounded up in the winter and fed because they can’t migrate. In their efforts to migrate they push on the fences and strip the park of food. So they round them up and feed them because otherwise they would escape or die of starvation. In the process of moving them around extras are sold and moved to other parks. So really it’s a breeding facility.

 Facts about Elk Island:

-Home to one of the most endangered habitats in Canada, aspen parkland.
– Only fully fenced national park.
– Second only to Serengeti for hooved wildlife.
– Home to deer, elk, plains and wood bison, moose, beaver, coyote, and 250 species of bird.
– Established in 1906 as a game reserve.
– 1913 joined Parks Canada family.
– Source of disease free bison for reintroduction into other habitats.

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